Gardening Q and A

Tomatoes – Mulching With Sawdust

Q: My tomatoes are ready for the cages to be put around them. I live near a saw mill. Can I use their sawdust to mulch around the tomatoes? A: A light mulch of the sawdust, no more than an...

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Lantana – Did It Survive

Q: I was wondering when I should give up and accept that my Chapel Hill lantana did not survive the winter? Should it have started growth by now? A: I think it’s a goner. ‘Chapel Hill Yellow’ was discovered by...

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Tomatoes – Forgot To Add Lime

Q: I have already placed wheat straw around my tomatoes but I failed to add any lime to prevent blossom end rot. What can I do at this point? A: Blossom end rot is caused by a lack of calcium...

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Crapemyrtle – No New Growth

Q: We have twenty-five crapemyrtles our property. We cut them back severely last November. Now they have no new growth at all, except some stems at the base. A: I think the cause lies with the November pruning. It is...

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Hornbeam – The Tree For You?

Q: We have two European hornbeams on either side of front stoop. We were told the tree would not change shape much or grow very high. However, after the first year it is growing much higher and starting to spread...

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Crapemyrtle – Protecting The Trunk

Q: I am planting tree-form crepe myrtles on a horse farm and want to protect the trunks from the horses. Can I split black corrugated drain pipe and install around the trunks to prevent the horses from chewing on them?...

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Hellebore – Encouraging Growth

Q: I have been growing a hellebore for ten years but have not been able to get it to spread. It is mulched with pine straw. How can I get it to multiply? A: Your hellebore’s flowers are fading and...

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Indian Hawthorn – Leaves Brown and Crisp

Q: I am seeing large groupings of dead Indian hawthorns near where I work. The leaves are light brown and crisp to the touch. A: Indian hawthorn is another plant that has confounded me with its behavior after January’s severe...

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Blueberries – Berries Not Blue

Q: We have several wild blueberry bushes in our woods. Each year they produce lots of berries but they never turn blue. What can we do to help them ripen? A: “Ripening” for any fruit involves sunshine. Plants use solar...

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Limelight Hydrangea – Pruning

Q: Is it too late to prune back my Limelights? A: It’s not too late but you’d better get started soon. ‘Limelight’ hydrangea is a variety that blooms in late summer from buds that form in late spring. Pruning each...

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Asparagus – Softening Solid Ground

Q: We just bought a farm and found we have a nice asparagus patch under lots of weeds. How would you clean this up? The ground is like cement! A: I’d soak the area with water two days in a...

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Ferns – Sunshine Or Shade Varieties

Q: What are the names of the two ferns you recommended on radio that will “grow anywhere, sun or shade”? A: I love autumn fern, Dryopteris erythrosora, and Southern shield fern, Thelypteris kunthii. Autumn fern is evergreen. It sends up...

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Fertilizer – The Proper Ratio

Q: According to the Atlanta Rose Society I should fertilize regularly with a “balanced” fertilizer like 10-10-10 or 16-4-8. Intuitively, the former is “balanced” with equal percentages (10-10-10), whereas the latter is not. Am I misunderstanding something? A: Although semantically...

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Tulip Trees – Nasty Excretions

Q: Our deck is in the shade of a big tulip tree. This past week this tree as been raining down large splats of something all over the deck. We think it might be scale insects that suck the juice...

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Marigolds – Nematode Prevention

Q: French marigolds have been shown to control root knot nematodes in small areas. Marigold root extract is available from China. Have any studies been done using it for nematode control ? A: In my view, the research is inconclusive....

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Crapemyrtle – Treating Ambrosia Beetles

Q: I have found evidence of Asian ambrosia beetles on my crepe myrtle. I have read that I should destroy the tree. A: The damage done by this insect depends on how many of the beetles bored holes into your...

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Confederate Jasmine – Surviving Winter?

Q: Each year my Confederate jasmine dies back a bit and I prune it and it comes back just fine. It didn’t survive this winter. Is there a tougher vine that we could put where this one is? A: Despite...

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Vegetables – Good Row Spacing

Q: For the first time in thirty years, I’m planting a vegetable garden. I’m excited! How far apart should my rows be? A: I think thirty inches is the minimum but I like a thirty-six inch spacing so I can...

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